With the talent that the Montreal Canadiens have, it was only a matter of time until they broke out of their current slump.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, the Canadiens did just that; playing their best game of the season tonight.
The teams were pretty evenly matched in the first period, which ended with both teams tied at 1. However, the Candiens took over and completely outplayed the Flyers in the second and third periods, putting pressure on in front of Ilya Bryzgalov and putting pucks in the back of the net.
By the time it was all said and done, the Canadiens got their first home victory of the season in a 5-1 clubbing of the visiting Flyers. Max Pacioretty scored two goals for the home team.
Just looking at the score, you could infer that starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov had yet another bad game in net. However, although that may be somewhat true, what really hurt the Flyers tonight was the overall play of the entire team, especially the defensive unit.
With Chris Pronger out, Matt Walker and Andreas Lilja saw much more ice time in this one, and didn’t make the most of their opportunity. Lilja was decent, making a few good defensive plays and even pinching up a few times to keep the offensive play alive. Walker, on the other hand, was nothing short of dreadful.
Walker was a minus 1 in 7:20 of ice time, and several big mistakes by the 31-year-old led to Canadiens’ goals. The most glaring mistake came in the third period, when Walker had an opportunity to glove the puck and send the Flyers on a rush down the ice. Walker couldn’t make the play, and two hungry Canadiens were waiting in front of Bryzgalov and did the inevitable: scored easily.
There were times when Bryzgalov should have made the save, like on the 5th goal scored when he was out of position after going for a puck behind the net that he had no business handling. However, to blame the Russian entirely for this one is completely unfair. They need a change defensively, whether it be sending Matt Walker back to the Phantoms and calling up Oskars Bartulis or Erik Gustafsson to take his place, or switching up the defensive pairings to better suit a Pronger-less group.
Walker can be sent down without clearing waivers until November 4th.
C.J. Burns is the Flyers beat writer for Buzz on Broad. You can find him on Twitter @CJBurns215